Like millions of Indians, I have been reading and watching the comments and reports that have been appearing in the media over the last few years. It has evoked various reactions in me and i have tried to stay balanced and neutral in my assessments, though my blog will remain an Indian perspective as I am an Indian after all – so, no pretensions there. Let me comment specifically on some of the topics and i have summarised the heading based on the central theme of these various stories.
Part 1: Indian cricket Board (BCCI) is a rich, rude, inflexible bully
I am not a cricket historian and not going to dwell upon too much of history. It is now well established that BCCI is the richest cricket body globally and the ratio of the revenues that it generates vis-a-vis the other countries is unbelievably skewed with some saying that 70% of the global cricket revenues is made through BCCI.
This was not always the case and i am not sure when BCCI attained such a status but it is safe to assume that the momentum gathered after India won the cricket world cup in 1983 and climbed significantly since the 1990s, thanks to new generation of cricketers. One man Sachin Tendulkar became the cornerstone of this explosive growth. Even the most ardent Sachin hater would internally acknowledge that there was always something about his rise that most Indians seem to readily identify with and his personal characteristics and values coupled with on-field performances spurred maniacal interest amongst the masses. He was followed by other quality cricketers like Ganguly, Dravid, Kumble, etc who brought along their own identity and the Indian cricket team became the toast of the nation due to some solid performances. This was cashed in big time by everyone from media to corporate houses to television networks, which has all contributed to the current status of BCCI.
None of us are privy to ICC meetings of cricket boards or any other such events and this includes you, me, the media, the ex-cricketers who have become cricket writers and commentators. Of course, some may have better connections and hence, may get some dope about these meetings because there is always someone willing to enjoy their two minute fame by revealing the discussions from these closed door meetings. So, the notion that BCCI dominates these meetings may have its merits and demerits but let us assume they do for a minute. I cannot fathom why the other boards allowed this to happen and also cannot believe that an Australian, English, South African boards to name a few were agreeing to everything that BCCI said, without any return favours. If they did raise a point and it was shot down, then is BCCI solely to be blamed? If they agreed because the return favour ensured that they were adequately compensated, then again whose fault is it?
The ICC CEO or the ICC itself is deemed to be a muppet now in the hands of BCCI. Can someone tell me that in the days when BCCI or Indian cricket were not powerful (or rich if you want to call them that), who was influencing the decisions and who got what they wanted? Why were the first two cricket World cups in 1979 and 1983 held in England when West Indies and Australia were the better sides? Why were only English umpires and Australian umpires seen everywhere in those initial days when neutral umpires were implemented? Whether it was the Kerry Packer series or the rebel South African tours, the cricketers who were mostly participating were from England and Australia and their intention was largely to make money. These ventures against the ICC rules existing at that time and some of them did lose a bit of their cricketing career but how would a similar decision by a Asian cricketers be viewed by these western boards?
Who held the aces when it came to changing the rules of the game, scheduling tours, etc, etc? How many test matches were the likes of India, Pakistan given when they toured England, Australia? If you look at disciplining players for their behaviour, even till today, it is Asian cricketers who bears the brunt of it when players from all countries are equally culpable. Bowling actions have always been questioned and ball tampering allegations have always been pointed out at the Asian teams largely but the recent reports suggest that match fixing within the English county cricket was existing till last season.
The most ridiculed tournament is the IPL and I have no arguments against the cricketing issues that some point out, that IPL does not develop technique, temperament that is required to compete at test match level. But, a number of the boards, the ex-cricketers turned media people largely accuse it of throwing money and making cricket a dirty game. IPL was itself conceived from the now defunct ICL as everyone in India is aware and in its present form, the teams are owned by corporate houses. Yes, there are still issues to overcome about IPL management, but how can some of these ex-cricketers especially those from England, forget the whole Allen Sanford matter. The man landed in Lords stadium with a suitcase full of cash, which has now been officially declared as laundered money and he has been convicted. Having done that, some of these boards and their cricketers are now moaning about IPL, how is that right?
At the end of a long article, the point that I have tried to make is on whether the accusers of BCCI have any moral right to say all the things that they have been saying. Is there not a clear jealousy factor here about the success that Indian cricket has achieved?
In Part 2, I will talk about the perceptions about our cricketers and the cricket team.